Forgiveness is… deciding to live with the painful consequences of another person’s sin. You are going to have to live with it anyway, so you might as well do it without the bitterness and rancor and hatred that threaten to destroy your soul.’ Sam Storms, Forgiveness: What It Is, What It Is Not
Forgiveness. Oooooh that’s a tough word. To the Christian is carries extra punching power because it’s one that we are meant to be really good at. You’re a Christian, aren’t you meant to forgive?
Let’s imagine for one moment that you are the wife of a husband who is repeatedly physically aggressive, or a child who has been sexually abused. Let’s imagine that someone turned your whole life upside down with a lie or betrayed you again after they said they promised they wouldn’t. How do you forgive, especially if forgiving could put you straight back in harm’s way?
This is what forgiveness is.
Choosing to free another person from the bitterness, hatred and anger you feel because of their actions. Choosing to allow them the freedom to change. Choosing to walk in hope that things will be different. Choosing to take responsibility for your part in creating the problem, although you should not take responsibility for something of which you were innocent. Choosing to walk away from the consequences of a person’s actions by refusing to repeat their patterns of behaviour or allowing them to ruin your life.
This is what forgiveness is not.
Forgetting – some things are so difficult, you may not be able to forget. Pretending nothing happened. Condoning wrong behaviour – by forgiving you are not saying what they did was OK. Allowing more wrong behaviour – you are not obliged to keep yourself or your children in harm’s way. Waiting for someone to say sorry – sometimes it doesn’t happen. Being reconciled – reconciliation can only happen when everyone is in agreement about what happened and what needs to change, sometimes you cannot make that happen.
Forgiveness is like the key that turns the lock to your freedom. It may take time, prayer, therapy or distance but ultimately it separates you from the crime. It puts responsibility back where it belongs, in the hands of the person who hurt you. Forgiveness does not lessen the consequences for the one you forgive. It gives them choice.
Trust takes a moment to loose and a long time to build. Forgiveness can be the start, but starting again takes time, effort and intent. Sometimes you may get to a point where you have to walk away. Know this, love always hopes. Wherever you are on the road, God is with You. And He believes in you.
Have a good day:)
Claire Vorster is a professional writer with 20 years successful Corporate writing experience, both in the US and the UK. She specialises in inspirational and motivational writing and editing for Corporate clients, magazines, newspapers and online markets.
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